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Matt Garcia's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Matt Garcia recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Matt Garcia's favorite book recommendations of all time.

In her timely new book, Teresa M. Mares explores the intersections of structural vulnerability and food insecurity experienced by migrant farmworkers in the northeastern borderlands of the United States. Through ethnographic portraits of Latinx farmworkers who labor in Vermont’s dairy industry, Mares powerfully illuminates the complex and resilient ways workers sustain themselves and their families while also serving as the backbone of the state’s agricultural economy. In doing so, Life on the Other Border exposes how broader movements for food justice and labor rights play out in the... more
Recommended by Matt Garcia, and 1 others.

Matt GarciaTeresa lays bare the sacrifices that farm workers make to produce Vermont’s most important agricultural product—milk. Mares is an anthropologist, so her work is based on participant observation. (Source)

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With a uniquely balanced combination of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy flavors, Thai food burst onto Los Angeles’s and America’s culinary scene in the 1980s. Flavors of Empire examines the rise of Thai food and the way it shaped the racial and ethnic contours of Thai American identity and community. Full of vivid oral histories and new archival material, this book explores the factors that made foodways central to the Thai American experience. Starting with American Cold War intervention in Thailand, Mark Padoongpatt traces how informal empire allowed U.S. citizens to discover Thai... more
Recommended by Matt Garcia, and 1 others.

Matt GarciaFlavors of Empire is a very modern history of a very recent immigrant group told through the pursuit of yum, that unique flavor profile of Thai food. Mark is, so far as I can tell, the first person to tell the history of Thai Americans and he does it through food. He shows how Thai people, particularly in Los Angeles, structure their lives around yum, which is simultaneously salty, sour, sweet,... (Source)

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For over a century, America's nutrition authorities have heralded milk as "nature's perfect food," as "indispensable" and "the most complete food." These milk "boosters" have ranged from consumer activists, to government nutritionists, to the American Dairy Council and its ubiquitous milk moustache ads. The image of milk as wholesome and body-building has a long history, but is it accurate?
Recently, within the newest social movements around food, milk has lost favor. Vegan anti-milk rhetoric portrays the dairy industry as cruel to animals and milk as bad for humans. Recently, books...
Recommended by Matt Garcia, and 1 others.

Matt GarciaMelanie DuPuis does a great job of telling how milk came to be seen as central to the American diet. Milk has an amazing cultural apparatus around it. In the United States, most people would recognize the key elements of the milk industry’s marketing campaign—the familiar ‘milk moustache’ and the slogan ‘milk does the body good.’ Melanie DuPuis tells the story of the marketing of milk in the... (Source)

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The book that launched environmental history now updated.

Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize

In this landmark work of environmental history, William Cronon offers an original and profound explanation of the effects European colonists' sense of property and their pursuit of capitalism had upon the ecosystems of New England. Reissued here with an updated afterword by the author and a new preface by the distinguished colonialist John Demos, Changes in the Land, provides a brilliant inter-disciplinary interpretation of how land and people influence one...
Recommended by Matt Garcia, and 1 others.

Matt GarciaMany see Cronon’s book as ecological studies or environmental history. But what I see is his study of the consequences of raising livestock on the land, the consequences of extracting food from a place . . . in this first book, he also makes clear that livestock agricultural practices, food production practices, have consequences. (Source)

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Often blamed for the rising rates of obesity and diabetes among black Americans, fast food restaurants like McDonald’s have long symbolized capitalism’s villainous effects on our nation’s most vulnerable communities. But how did fast food restaurants so thoroughly saturate black neighborhoods in the first place? In Franchise, acclaimed historian Marcia Chatelain uncovers a surprising history of cooperation among fast food companies, black capitalists, and civil rights leaders, who—in the troubled years after King’s assassination—believed they found an economic answer to the problem... more
Recommended by Ida Bae Wells, Matt Garcia, and 2 others.

Ida Bae WellsI remember sitting in absolute awe the 1st time @DrMChatelain talked abt this book she was writing on McDonalds, race & black capitalism. It was uncovering the story of something you see everyday but think little about, revealing hidden history in the best possible way. Excited! (Source)

Matt GarciaThe story of how black entrepreneurs used the predominance of fast food in their communities as an economic development opportunity is brought to light by this book. Chatelain looks at entrepreneurs who take fast food franchises and retrofit them as employment sources and gathering spots for their communities. She talks about how McDonald’s becomes a place, not just of wealth for some black... (Source)

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